The Silicon Review
LinkedCar is an innovative start-up creating a world-class Connected Mobility Platform intended for the mobility industry. The company's platform is based on trusted Salesforce technology. It focuses on interactivity and customer experience, enabling consumers to be closer to the automotive sector by uniting data from dealers, manufacturers, insurers, fleets, and even live data from connected vehicles.
LinkedCar was founded in 2019 and is headquartered in Hasselt, Belgium.
To highlight and further understand what LinkedCar stands for and seeks to explore in this segment, I sat down with Mario Schraepen (founder), who serves as the company's Chief Believer.
Below is an excerpt
Q. When it comes to emotional branding, LinkedCar sounds highly promising. As a journalist, I find it quite striking. My question to you is, how did you come up with the brand name, and what does it depict?
It is hard to find a name that immediately represents the purpose of the company. For us, LinkedCar covered everything right away. From connected cars to linking the driver to the mobility industry, it was all in the name. The only link missing from our name is our recent interest in the data and connectivity of e-bikes, scooters, and other vehicles.
Q. What makes LinkedCar great? And how unique is its Connected Mobility platform?
LinkedCar has found the key to unlocking mobility data and has seen that returning the data to the customer benefits everyone in the mobility ecosystem. Imagine the opportunities that arise if you can build a relationship with each customer individually and predict their mobility needs. Insurance becomes 'pay how you drive', fleet/lease managers can prove how well their car has been driven, and customer loyalty increases for every partner involved. In concrete terms, we have a universal IoT device that makes any vehicle connected. Today that is a car and an e-bike, but we are even thinking of boats! We supply this data free of charge to consumers, who in turn can monetize them on our platform to business partners (insurance, dealers, lease, etc.). Our technology and our approach is the key to unlocking this new perspective on mobility.
Q. 'Our ambition is to be the global driver of change in customer loyalty for the automotive industry.' Splendid. Would you like to elaborate on this a bit more?
The automotive industry is changing; new technologies, new services are emerging every day. Unfortunately, it always favors the ‘big players’, and the customer ends up paying for any new technology or service that the automotive industry pushes them towards. But it doesn't have to be that way. If we change the playing field in such a way that every business partner has access to specific vehicle data and the driver consciously shares this data, the business partner can offer a new form of customer loyalty.
In fact, this will benefit the entire mobility ecosystem. They can focus on the services they are good at but respond better to customer demand thanks to the new data flows. In our view, customer loyalty is mainly about offering the customer added value.
Q. What do you want to portray by saying, 'we are drivers of change, creating drivers for life?'
Technologies are constantly evolving, including in the automotive industry. We want to drive that change, make it valuable for everyone. Our innovations will change the way we all look at mobility, and more specifically, at mobility data. It will be possible for all mobility partners to build a long-lasting one-to-one relationship with the driver (customer), to build an extensive and loyal customer portfolio while focusing on the individual customer needs. Ultimately, we all want a customer for life.
Q. What can you tell us about the multi-brand connected car app, and how does it help dealers, insurers, and fleets?
Our app is vital for vehicle data monetization for consumers. Although the app is mainly consumer-based, it is the 'communication key' for the mobility partners. Once the data has been shared by the driver, the mobility partners can communicate directly via personalized messages.
With our app, the driver can view up to five cars and/or e-bikes, regardless of brand or model. So if you buy a car from brand X today and tomorrow from brand Y, you can always use the same app you are used to. It provides you with all the live data, maintenance history, a driving score, and even fun facts. It also allows the driver to choose when and with whom you share your data, communicate directly with all ecosystem partners, and even share car data within your household. The best way to describe our app is as an all-round digital passport of your vehicle.
Q. From your perspective, how is the industry you serve currently evolving? And what are the trends in the different categories?
From a business perspective, we see the growing interest in-vehicle data. More and more companies are offering mobility data services, apps are being launched, and new hardware is being pushed to consumers. But no one connects the dots. The result is an ever-growing gap, and consumers pay multiple times for their own data.
On the other hand, we are seeing more consumer awareness and a shift in demand. More requests for shared mobility solutions, insights, and data ownership and more confidence to negotiate.
While all of these trends appear to be a threat to current mobility/automotive business models, we see them as an opportunity for innovation.
Q. What strategies are in place to encourage innovation in your company?
On the one hand, we work closely with the research institute for sustainable mobility of the Karel de Grote Hogeschool (Antwerp, Belgium), and on the other hand, there is a very open culture within the LinkedCar team. This promotes innovation.
Our innovation projects are also pushed by our customers. Every implementation takes place via a co-creation session to quickly detect and implement new trends and opportunities in the data mobility system worldwide.
Q. Can you provide us with one or two success stories describing the challenges your clients faced and how your solutions helped them overcome those challenges?
We noticed that some car dealers have very old-fashioned processes, some still use MS Excel, and others use paper to manage their customer portfolio. When they use a digital system, they use many different applications, and they still don't know who their customer is.
We know that approximately 40 percent of customers do not return to their dealers for service after four years. This results in an average loss of turnover of 400K/year for one dealer.
Imagine what we can do if we give the data back to the consumer: you can get to know them, view their data, and provide proactive advice to build a loyal relationship with them. And that's only for the dealer. New business models are emerging for the insurer (pay as you drive, pay how you drive). For the leasing company, we can demonstrate how the car has been driven, resulting in an increase in the trade-in value of 15-20 percent.
Q. Where do you stand as a company in the current market landscape? And what are you doing to stay ahead of the curve?
Our solution is threefold:
Our hardware is in an MVP phase and will be available to the general public by the beginning of next year. The mobile application is ready to be put on the stores from Google and Apple.
Our Connected Mobility platform brings everyone in the automotive sector closer to the customer. It is already available and simplifies all vehicle management processes (sales/fleet/lease) immediately. The platform makes it possible to integrate multiple processes that until now require multiple software tools (email campaigns, follow-up, sales/brand system, invoice systems, etc.) in one easy-to-use and smart system. Later, when our hardware and app come to market, live vehicle data can be easily integrated, allowing everyone to take advantage of the redesign of the mobility data industry.
Q. Will LinkedCar be expanding, bringing on any new products or services that we should be aware of?
At the moment, our focus is mainly on internationalization. Furthermore, our engineers are working hard to make our hardware smarter and as user-friendly as possible so that other vehicles can also be read.
Q. What plans for transformation are you pursuing to remain relevant now and in the future?
The discussion about who owns data is now more relevant than ever and will only become more relevant as we start to generate more data. Being aware of how we can make data work for everyone and not just one group exploiting it should be the goal of every company.
A Relentlessly Reliable Leader
Mario Schraepen is the Founder and Chief Believer of LinkedCar. He is a serial entrepreneur with a reputation for building a strong and fun team. His experience comes from his education and MBA and his 'personal MBAs’, as he likes to call it: “Every time you start a business, you learn so much, it feels like you're going through a real-life MBA.” Some people might describe him as a visionary. He can easily put together different puzzle pieces and see things that can grow big long before being picked up by competitors. He calls it “common sense”—a typical modest character of his and his no-nonsense approach.